It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.
Last Weeks' Posts
- Link Up Your Diverse Children's Book Posts There's still time to linkup books for children that showcase the diversity of our world.
- New Book Alert: The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner. I love Kate Messner's books. Here she tackles an important topic (and one that has already gotten her "uninvited" to a school visit on the day the book debuted).
- #3rdfor3rd: If You Like the Lightning Thief... find out what you should read next!
- Congratulations to George. Winner of the 2016 "Lammy" for Children's and Young Adult Literature.
Thunder Boy, Jr. (2016) by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales. There has been a lot of hype, praise (recently named a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book), and critical discussion about this book, so I was very interested in seeing it for myself.
Overall, I have to come down on the side of ... ambivalent. I love that it is a story about a modern-day Native American family and the relationship between a father and his son. But I also immediately see all of the concerns others have raised about the importance of names and naming in Native American culture (for more on that, please read Towards a Common Understanding of Native Peoples in the U.S. (or, Why Alexie's THUNDER BOY JR. Needs a Note to Readers)) and, for me, the story just doesn't quite work. A book like Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum seems like a deeper treatment of unusual names and learning to be comfortable with yourself.
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (2016) by Chris Barton and illustrated by Dan Tate. I love this new nonfiction biography of Lonnie Johnson, and I wish it had been published before my kids started their Passion Projects this spring. The book does a great job of connecting Lonnie's interests as a kid to his future plans, as well as showing the ups and downs of a real career. Definitely a book I will use with kids in the future!
Middle Grade / Young Adult
Hour of the Bees (2016) by Lindsay Eager. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful debut novel. I had heard good things about it before but what finally caught my eye was a review last week that mentioned the phrase "magical realism." One of the assignments previously given in seventh grade English was having the students write a short story with elements of "magical realism," so I am eager to find some good mentor texts. This is certainly one.
Carolina (Carol) has to spend the summer with her family, getting her grandfather's ranch ready to be sold so that he can be moved into an assisted living home, now that his dementia is progressing. She is curious about this grandpa she has never met, and his dementia serves as a gateway between the realism of much of the novel as it contrasts with the story he tells her about the ranch and its history.
The story and its magical is-it-isn't-it-possible moments made me realize that Holes by Louis Sachar, Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt, and The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner could also fall into this "magical realism" category. Would love some more ideas to help build a text set around this for my middle school readers and writers.